Who will save the news industry?

I have been told that I am a little roundabout in my analysis of future journalism models and the degradation of newspapers.  Perhaps, that is because I am incapable – as I feel everybody else is – of knowing exactly how the future will unfold for the media industry.  There are plenty of educated guesses and trend reports (about what will be the best model for news media) out there, but none of them are certain that their hypothesis is the correct one.  Just as if I were to make a direct statement about where journalism will be in ten years, I am just as likely to be wrong as I am right.

Newspapers are clearly in need of a redesigning, in aesthetics and content, in order to dwart the slump print has fallen into.

Newspapers are clearly in need of a redesigning, in aesthetics and content, in order to dwart the slump print has fallen into.

As I had previously stated, I do believe that newspapers will still be around for another ten years at least, but they will not continue on with business as usual, considering the internet is taking media by storm.  The experts even agree according to quotes at the end of this Mashable article.  The article also lends 12 tips newspapers (or rather media outlets) should follow in order to survive.  The content does not quite match the title.  These are really tips on how a newspaper can use their online content to allow their printed copy to scrape by – it is really about online expansion.

As advertising is increasingly moving online, newspapers will no longer be bringing in the majority of the revenue.  In fact, they will more than likely bring an unsubstantial amount of revenue in comparison to their cost of printing and distribution.  It is like what Mathew Ingram says, “there will always be people who want the printed version for a variety of reasons…” but not everybody, or as Paul Bradshaw predicts, “newspapers as a platform have several advantages over the web,” but “they’ll have to adapt economically… which is why they’ll suffer more than they did with the advent of radio, TV, etc.”  The adaptation of these newspapers becomes a muddled subject, as there is no specific solution.

Most models discuss the mobilization and advancement of the internet.  All of them target the popularization of news companies.  Yes, they dabble with ideas of where the money will come from – paid content and advertising, though it appears that many new news models seem to accept the idea that there may be no revenue at all.  Many of these new news models step away from the news industry being a profitable industry at all – or even a legitimate industry at all.  Many of these ‘improvements’ seem to cheapen the original ideals of journalism.  Terms like “anybody can be a journalist” are being thrown around.

The following needs to be addressed:

  1. Models where all content is free is bound to fail.
  2. Models where advertising is not addressed are incomplete.
  3. Simply utilizing the web does not guarantee improvements for the newspaper itself, just the web presence.
  4. Web presence is important, but it won’t save an industry.

But what will?  As vague and difficult as it may seem, this clip of Jacek Utko for TED encapsulates exactly what does need to happen to save newspapers or create a new, successful news organization – complete redesign.

“Design may change not just your product. It may change your workflow, branding, the whole company.
It may even change you.” – Utko

Utko’s style of journalism is pretty much taking the ‘multimedia’ to print – utilizing every skill and outlet possible in order to create a special, unique brand that people will want to purchase.  Not only aesthetics will win you 100% more readership, as Utko states it is about the adjoining of “function and form” and “content and design.”  He keeps his speech slightly vague, leaving much of his advice open for interpretation.  This sounds about right.

One strict business model will not be the savior of every news organization out there.  No, it will be one that is especially tailored for whatever goal you envision for your company.  Thus, you can take Utko’s outline and apply it to your own needs.  Create a unique personal brand for your newspaper; don’t follow the same standard ‘solution’ that every other organization has deemed the ‘right’ one.

In accepting Utko’s new model (which is less of a model than a basic guideline), it does not mean the rejection of all other models.  Other models are able to fit into Utko’s advice.  For example, this BuzzMachine idea about cutting up the newspaper is innovative and completely reshapes the way people would see this newspaper and is bound to see results (one way or another).  However, it is only one option out of the millions.  It is your job to really create your own innovation.


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